I’m an asylee, applying for my green card: Do I need a financial sponsor?

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Question:

I was granted asylum in the U.S. just over a year ago, and am now putting together my adjustment of status application to get a green card. I keep seeing “Form I-864 Affidavit of Support” listed as part of the requirements to apply for adjustment of status. But I don’t have anyone who can be my financial sponsor. My income is very low, too. Do I need to have a sponsor fill out Form I-864 for me? Is my low income going to cause problems when I apply for the green card?

Answer:

Don’t worry – what you are seeing is from the list of required forms and documents required of people applying for their green card (lawful permanent residence) based on family relationships, not on asylum. For these people, it’s important that they prove they are not “inadmissible” to the U.S. based on their being likely to become a “public charge,” that is, rely on need-based government benefits such as food stamps or “welfare.” To help them prove this, the U.S. family member who petitioned them must sign Form I-864, promising to support them.

As an asylee (or refugee), however, you are not even subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. (This is set forth in Section 209(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act or I.N.A.) Your future income levels are not a factor in whether you qualify for a green card, and you do not need a financial sponsor in the United States.

So, leave Form I-864 out of your adjustment of status application! And if you find yourself in financial difficulty, realize that various government and other benefits are open to asylees.

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